is a fairly new phenomenon, but one which is becoming increasingly
prevalent in the UK. Showroomers are everywhere. You might have stood
next to one in the supermarket or bumped into another at PC World. You
could even be one yourself…
So what is showrooming?
Showrooming is the practice of visiting physical shops to check out
an item you are considering buying (so far, so normal). To turn this
simple, everyday act into a sneaky piece of showrooming you’ll need to
whip out your mobile phone, run a price comparison and buy a cheaper
version of the same product from a competitor online.
With fast 3G mobile web available almost everywhere thanks to clever data providers like https://mobi-data.co.uk/
it’s become easier and easier for all of us to become savvier shoppers.
But this technique is having a knock-on effect on retailers and could
even change the face of retail in the longer term…
How big is the phenomenon?
Showrooming is bigger than you think – and it’s growing. According to
Econsultancy, 67% of companies acknowledge that smartphone use in store
is on the rise, whilst elsewhere analysts suggest that the activity is growing by 156% year on year.
It’s a difficult thing to gauge, but these figures are certainly not
unfeasible. With increasingly speedy 3G and 4G options for smartphones
and ever-rising numbers of smartphone users, is it any wonder so many of us are using technology to make better informed purchasing decisions?
So, what’s the problem?
Unfortunately this can mean that real life shops miss out…If a
business doesn’t have an online presence in today’s market, chances are
it will not last for long. The cost of square footage in a good
commercial area and all of the overheads involved in running a physical
shop make online selling much more cost-effective.
These savings can then be passed on to the consumer. If people are
buying less and less frequently from bricks and mortar shops with
slightly costlier products, these businesses cannot be sustained in the
Is there a solution?
The Econsultancy report suggests that just 11% of businesses think
that in store smartphone usage is a problem for them, but some
businesses are taking action. In very extreme cases shops are charging
an admission fee to ensure that even showrooming customers contribute to
revenue. In other places slightly more sensible methods are being
trialled including making stores wi-fi blackspots.
However, by far the most effective way to tackle showrooming is for
businesses to go mobile themselves. The solution for retailers seems to
be making the in store experience they offer mobile as well as physical
by including special deals for smartphone users via an accessible,
responsive mobile website.
It seems likely that it will be a case of sink or swim for bricks and
mortar retailers in the digital age. Either they work some mobile magic
or they slowly lose out to more tech-happy businesses. For us
smartphone toting shoppers, however, things can really only get better –
better deals, better mobile services and more accessible content via
mobile are all on the horizon – unless all shops everywhere decide to
black out mobile connections…uh oh!
Image credit: google images, bbc.co.uk